Review Summary: Although extremely unoriginal and standard for the scene, the band shows quite a bit of potential for future releases.
Before getting into the analysis of the album, it is important to note that this is significantly longer than an EP. A typical extended play length usually ranges anywhere from twelve to thirty minutes, giving the listener of a taste of what’s to come. This is not the case here – at 40:40, this is significantly longer than this year’s Veil of Maya release Eclipse, which clocks in under 28:20 minutes – and it was released as an LP.
Right off the bat, the opener Ontology sets the standard for the remainder of the album. Pummeling, syncopated chugs rain down upon the ears, with the crystal-clear-verby clean vocals. And to no one’s surprise, there are gutturals, shouts, and tricksy guitar licks prancing on top of the compositions. Meanwhile, as is the standard for most djent out there today, the floating cavernous clean guitars act as melodic pillows for the aforementioned bounce-alongs.
The guitar work on this album is unfortunately standard. Indeed, the album is filled to the brim with bouncy rhythms that get your head bobbing. However, this proves to be remedial for the first two to three songs, then the listener is stuck listening to open chug patterns on-the-four for the majority of the verses in each subsequent song. Contemporaries such as Gojira and Textures usually pull this technique off, but they are also moderately more dynamic than the group at hand. Songs such as Ananda and The Awesome Song break this monotony of alternating open palm mutes vs. standard chord progressions, but for only a short period of time, with the latter song displaying outstanding writing for the solo portion of the composition. With the first three songs, the listener is also consequently introduced to the same sound that will grace each following recording – the cavernous pillow guitar. While at first fresh, it unfortunately suffers from the samesy sound for the rest of the recordings. In fact, this becomes such an issue that the listener is eventually found frustrated at the fairly uninspired melodic repetitiveness of the open chord clean guitar. Luckily, the musicians employ a soothing keyboard to help augment the atmospheric elements of the compositions.
It is important to note that the drums do an outstanding job of supporting the rhythmic assault of the compositions. The production on them could have been much better, especially since all of the toms (and even the snare at times) sound a bit deadened and lost within the wall of sound employed by the producer. I cannot say with relative certainty, but at moments the drums sound fabricated, which is standard, but I would like to know for future reference. The bass in itself rarely peaks its head from behind the drums and the guitar, with a notable twiddle-doo on The Awesome Song.
Next, the vocals, the omnipresent component of each track. The vocals unfortunately suffer from the same issue as the guitar work – painfully samesy, and blatantly unoriginal. At times even comical, as heard on Testicular Tetris, which echoes Joe Buras’ unbearable hardcore yelps from the latest BOO release. The lyrical content, when not buried within the production, is quite varied. From the deeply introverted and philosophical ideals of the Ontology tracks, to the Testicular Tetris’ childish balls screams, it is hard to make out a concept for each track. Outside of that, the clean vocals echo influences from Vildhjarta, the former Textures vocalist, and at times Gojira.
Well, so far this seems like a release to stay away from. However, there are quite a few factors to keep in mind for when checking out this release. Although painfully unoriginal and standard for the past 100 djent albums, there are some important factors to consider. The musicians, as far as it seems, are incredibly hardworking. All of the compositions, although similar, have memorable moments even if for a short while. The songwriting is very strong from track to track, and there is a distinct lack of disjointed or lazy transitions. The atmospheric portions, augmented by the soothing keyboard, truly shine, especially when juxtaposed with the hell-fire chugfest. There is never really an inappropriate or forced moment for these aural additions. The transitions between the clean and the intense are seamless, soothing, and welcome.
In other words, to summarize this battery of the release (which hopefully won’t piss of the band too much), here is why you SHOULD listen to this album: Potential. The seamless interweaving of the ‘soft’ throughout the songs is a tough feat, especially since it rarely sounds forced. The powerhouse rhythms, combined with the maddening groove, really create momentum that the musicians carry and maintain extremely well. If the band continues working on developing these positive traits, coupled with the strong (but unoriginal) guitar work, that will be half the battle. The next phase for this young band is developing a more organic degree of experimentation in terms of chord changes and song structure. Creating an experience with each composition is what they should be shooting for, not following in what the industry standards are.